The World Land Trust is an international conservation charity based in Halesworth, Suffolk. Since its foundation in 1989 the World Land Trust has been working to preserve the world’s most biologically important and threatened lands, and has helped purchase and protect over 350,000 acres of habitats rich in wildlife, in Asia, Central and South America and the UK. The Trust’s key objective is to protect and sustainably manage natural eco-systems.
The World Land Trust’s flagship site in the UK is the Kites Hill Reserve. The beech woodland area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest and has also been included on English Nature’s “Natura 2000” site list, as part of a “network of the most important nature conservation sites in Europe.
The project will include enhancing the biodiversity of the site through the creation of a pond; enhancing the educational value of the nature reserve by extending a number of trails with educational boards to explain the species diversity, and involving volunteers, community members and schools in a bio diversity monitoring project. This transformation will involve the extension of the beech woodland, the conversion of currently grazed fields to organic status, and encouraging the rehabilitation of butterflies, bats and owls and other species lost to the area, by providing suitable breeding and feeding sites.
Following advice from a wildlife consultant late in 2008, Natural England, The Environment Agency, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trist and Stroud District Council, preparations for the Kites Hill Project were almost complete. However, due to an unexpected demand by the Council for an application for planning permission, work was halted on the creation of the pond. This was resolved in the autumn of 2009 and the pond installed during October and November. The aim is that it will become an important aquatic habitat for threatened UK species that are being lost to the area and to the UK as a whole, including frogs, newts and toads. The planting of 110 mixed broadleaved trees and some coppicing work was also carried out on another part of the site during the spring of 2009.
During 2010, WLT carried out a floristic survey of the pond, which showed that the first floral colonisers were beginning to be established in the pond, and dragonflies and mayflies have been attracted to it. The woodland area of the site was improved through coppicing, installation of bird boxes, thinning work and the creation of woodland habitats for invertebrates and small animals. The nature trail on the site has been extended to expose visitors to a wider range of habitats and species in the reserve, including the new pond. Interpretation panels, information boards and a map of the site have been produced. Links have been made with more community members who are now engaged in the future of the site.